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Drug smugglers

Published May 15. 2012 05:02PM

A Nesquehoning father and son, who previously admitted their part in the smuggling of illegal drugs into the county prison by using inmates' mail, were sentenced Monday in Carbon County court the father to a state prison, the son to probation.

Kermit Sponheimer, 60, was sentenced to serve 24 to 60 months in a state prison by President Judge Roger N. Nanovic II on a single count of criminal attempt-possession of contraband at the prison.

Cory J. Sponheimer, 24, of 151 W. Columbus Ave., was placed on probation for 24 months on a charge of criminal use of a communication device. Both counts are felonies.

Both were among 11 persons arrested in March 2011 for smuggling the drug Suboxone into the prison via the mail. District Attorney Gary F. Dobias called the arrests part of "Operation Postage Stamp."

The warden of the prison, Joseph Gross, intercepted three letters containing Suboxone underneath the letters' stamps. Suboxone is a drug used to treat heroin addiction and is commonly produced in pill form.

It is now being manufactured in thin, filmlike strips, very similar to the popular breath freshening strips.

The strip is placed under the stamp.

The senior Sponheimer said he was sorry he used his son in the criminal activity.

Nanovic said the court was disturbed by that fact. He said it was bad enough that Sponheimer was involved in the drug smuggling, considering his long criminal record, and added, "You dragged your son into this." He added, "You used a son's love for his father" to commit the crime.

Nanovic ruled the sentence runs consecutive to a prison term Sponheimer is currently serving on other charges which runs through September. Nanovic also ordered he get a drug and alcohol (D&A) evaluation, zero tolerance imposed on D&A use, and supply a DNA sample and pay the $250 fee. He also ruled Sponheimer is not entitled to any credit on the sentence.

In the sentencing of Cory Sponheimer, Nanovic noted the cooperation he gave police in the investigation and assisted in the probe.

Assistant District Attorney Jean A. Engler said his cooperation helped in the overall prosecution in the case.

Nanovic said because of that cooperation and the remorse he had shown since the beginning for what he did, he would spare him a prison term.

In addition to the probation sentence, Nanovic ordered he get a D&A evaluation, supply a DNA sample and pay the $250 fee, zero tolerance on D&A use, and render 25 hours of community service.

Each defendant must also pay court costs, which average close to $1,000, and pay a $50 per month supervision fee while on probation or parole.

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